Xerostomia: Causes and Treatments for Dry Mouth

Xerostomia: Causes and Treatments for Dry Mouth

Xerostomia is a big word with a simple definition: dry mouth. It’s the term for the absence of saliva in the mouth that can cause discomfort, often leading patients to seek medical treatment. The condition isn’t a disease in itself, but is actually caused by other factors.

While everyone experiences a dry mouth at one time or another, chronic dry mouth can not only be frustrating, but can also cause medical and dental issues. Treating xerostomia is important to improve overall quality of life as well as preventing any additional problems.

What Causes Xerostomia?

Many different issues can cause dry mouth. Some of the causes for this common condition include:

  • Medications. Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs list dry mouth as a side effect.
  • Nerve damage. Damage to the nerves that control saliva production can result in xerostomia.
  • Cancer treatments. Chemotherapy drugs or radiation can halt the production of saliva.
  • Other diseases. Parkinson’s or Sjogren’s syndrome can affect the salivary gland.

Other conditions, including stress and depression, can lead to a lower production of saliva as well.

What Problems does Xerostomia Cause?

Leaving xerostomia untreated can lead to further issues. The condition can cause difficulties with speech and eating, as well as an increase in cavities or infections in the mouth, since salvia helps wash away bacteria from the surface of the teeth.

What is the Treatment for Xerostomia?

To begin treatment for xerostomia, its root cause must be discovered. Eliminating the cause isn’t always possible, so dental professionals will find a treatment option that addresses the issue while not detracting from other medical care.

Some remedies can treat dry mouth, but they won’t cure it. These options include avoiding alcohol-based mouthwashes, using artificial saliva, sipping plain water, or using over-the-counter dry mouth products. Prescription medications can be used to stimulate saliva production in order to replace the saliva and prevent other medical and dental issues.

Dry mouth should be treated not only because of the discomfort it causes, but also because of the serious issues it can cause. Prioritize good oral care and regular dental treatments to prevent further problems. If you’re in need of dental care, make an appointment with Roseman Dental to get help from one of our empathic, patient-focused providers.

Periodontal Disease and How to Prevent It

Periodontal Disease and How to Prevent It

Periodontal disease occurs when the plaque that adheres to the teeth is not effectively removed. Plaque forms when bacteria in the mouth combine with mucus, creating a sticky and damaging substance that attaches to the teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly does certainly help minimize the formation of plaque, but any plaque that remains often turns into something called tartar, which cannot be easily brushed or flossed away at home. This is just one reason regular dentist visits are so essential!

To reduce the chances of developing gum disease, it’s important to recognize risk factors. Here’s a look at some of the things that commonly lead to gum disease and ways to prevent them from getting that far:

Genetic Makeup

Each person’s genetics play an important role in determining how healthy their teeth and gums are. So much so, in fact, that some researchers believe that as much as 30% of the population is especially susceptible to gum disease. However, even those who are predisposed to the issue can dramatically reduce their chances of developing it simply by engaging in strong oral hygiene practices. In this case of nature vs. nurture, go for nurture.

Stress Levels

While stress in and of itself isn’t a direct contributor to periodontal disease, it has a tendency to weaken the overall immune system. This means that fighting off infections will be tougher in general. In other words, if you’re in the beginning stages of gum disease and are particularly stressed out, it will likely exacerbate the problem. Talk to a doctor if you need help managing stress and its affects.

Smoking Habits

If someone doesn’t already suffer from periodontal disease, smoking may cause it to develop. If someone is a smoker and already has symptoms of gum disease, continuing the habit will only make the problem worse. The more someone smokes, the greater their risk, so cutting down an existing habit (or better yet, quitting entirely) can pay off in the form of improved oral health.

There are many risk factors associated with periodontal disease. The easiest and most effective ways of reducing the chance of developing it is to practice strong brushing and flossing habits, and visit the dentist at regular intervals. If your next appointment isn’t on the calendar yet, make one with Roseman Dental to keep those gums and teeth healthy.

2023 Give Kids a Smile® Presented by Marathon Petroleum Corporation – Free Dental Screenings & Cleanings for Children 18 & Under

2023 Give Kids a Smile® Presented by Marathon Petroleum Corporation – Free Dental Screenings & Cleanings for Children 18 & Under

Roseman Dental and Roseman University College of Dental Medicine are providing dental screenings and cleanings free to qualifying children ages 18 and under at the Give Kids a Smile® event in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of oral healthcare and help stop the spread of untreated dental decay. Children and teens who come in for a checkup and cleaning will also get a voucher* to return to Roseman Dental for a FREE comprehensive exam, x-rays, sealants, and up to $100 of additional care.

WHEN

Friday, February 3, 2023
9:00 am to 4:00pm – No appointments, walk-in patients only, while supplies last

 

WHERE

Roseman Dental
10894 S River Front Pkwy
South Jordan, UT 84095

 

*Event is subject to change. No appointment necessary, children are treated on a first come first serve basis and treatment will be limited by clinical capacity during the time of event. Vouchers are good for 6 months from the date of the event.

 

PRESENTING SPONSOR

Marathon Petroleum Corporation

 

Healthy Mouth = Healthy Body

Healthy Mouth = Healthy Body

You probably know that proper oral care, including brushing and flossing your teeth, will keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy, but did you know that even basic oral hygiene can help with keeping your entire body healthy? Many dentists and primary care doctors understand that the health of the mouth can indicate other potential health issues, and unhealthy mouths can also lead to disease in other parts of the body.

A Dirty Mouth

The average person’s mouth has many different types of bacteria. Not all of them are harmful, but when teeth go without proper care, the number of total bacteria living in a mouth could be between 100 million and 1 billion—about 1/7 the population of the entire planet!

While much of the mouth’s bacteria is harmless, and some is even helpful, the buildup of harmful bacteria can cause significant problems. It can lead to gum disease like gingivitis, or invite more severe periodontal disease, tooth decay, and eventually even tooth loss.

Connecting Your Mouth and Your Health

Most experts believe that the link between dental health and overall health stems from inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to infection. Inflammation tells the immune system to go to the part of the body that is experiencing the problem so it can fight off the disease. Acute inflammation—the kind that happens when you get hurt or sick—is good for the body because it helps the immune system identify and fight infection, disease, or injury. However, in cases of frequent and ongoing gum disease causing chronic inflammation, the chemicals released to fight the infection can actually wear down the immune system, making less effective at defeating disease throughout the body. The body responds with an inflammatory process, including blood vessel expansion, to increase blood flow to the affected areas. Instead of receding when the threat is gone, the immune system continues to attack. Inflammatory chemicals like histamine, bradykinin and prostaglandins continue to flood the area, damaging the healthy tissue.

The Link Between Oral Health and Chronic Disease

The strongest connection between oral health and chronic disease is with diabetes. Studies show that that inflammation and periodontal disease weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels, which is critical to controlling diabetes. Conversely, high blood sugar levels will contribute to higher levels of sugar in the saliva, creating an ideal environment for more bacteria to grow. This increases the severity of gum disease for diabetic patients.

Heart disease has also been closely linked to oral health, although the reasons are still unclear. Part of the connection may be that the risk factors for heart disease and gum disease are similar, including smoking, being overweight or obese, and eating an unhealthy diet. Some researchers and medical professionals also theorize that inflammation in the mouth can lead to inflammation in the blood vessels. This inflammation makes it harder for blood to travel throughout the body, raising blood pressure and heightening the danger that arterial plaque could break off the walls of the blood vessels and cause a stroke or heart attack.

Other diseases and chronic conditions that may be linked to oral health problems include:

Protecting from Oral Disease

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene habits:

  • Brush those teeth at least twice per day
  • Floss daily
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies, and limited or no sugar
  • Visit with a dentist regularly for check-ups

Visiting the dentist every six months makes catching potential problems easy. Issues like gingivitis, gum recession, bone loss, tender tissues, and an increased number of cavities all can indicate more significant problems. Since these changes are subtle, a dentist may have a difficult time diagnosing the symptoms of someone who comes in infrequently for check-ups. Seeing the same dentist regularly and building a care history in one place is important to maintain dental health.

The providers at Roseman Dental offer empathic, patient-centered care at accessible costs. Make an appointment to keep your smile and body healthy for the long haul.